Bitcoin slides 3% as Hong Kong seeks to end ‘honeymoon’ with crypto exchanges

The price of Bitcoin (BTC) has declined by more than 3% in the past two days. The pullback of the dominant cryptocurrency comes amid growing regulatory pressure in China and Hong Kong.

The daily price chart of Bitcoin. Source:

Timeline of exchange FUD in the past month

On Oct. 16, top Bitcoin futures exchange OKEx suspended withdrawals after one of the exchange’s private key holders was reportedly arrested.

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Merely 17 days later, speculation that Huobi, a Singapore-based exchange with an office in Hong Kong, might face regulatory pressure emerged after data showed massive Bitcoin and Tether withdrawals on Nov. 2.

Huobi BTC outflows Oct. 26-Nov. 2. Source: CryptoQuant

However, Huobi Global reaffirmed that the exchange is operating normally, and deposits and withdrawals are “operating as expected.”

Today, Reuters reported that Hong Kong regulators will propose that all cryptocurrency exchanges must be regulated and apply for a Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) license as opposed to the previous opt-in approach, which many exchanges declined to do.

It comes a year after the Hong Kong government released rules for cryptocurrency exchanges. Ashley Alder, chief executive of the SFC said on Nov. 3:

“This is a significant limitation, as under the current legislative framework if a platform operator is really determined to operate completely off the regulatory radar it can do so simply by ensuring that its traded crypto assets are not within the legal definition of a security.”

“We can declare Bitcoin’s honeymoon phase to be over”

Despite the subtle wording of the SFC’s statement, industry experts said it is essentially a declaration to end Bitcoin’s honeymoon phase. Leo Weese, the co-founder of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong, said:

“With rumors of more crypto exchange officials arrested in China and Hong Kong’s move to make trading illegal (aka licensed), we can declare Bitcoin’s honeymoon phase to be over. If you think Bitcoin will catch on, buy it now while you still can.”

Kelvin Koh, a partner at the Asia-based cryptocurrency investment firm Spartan Group, said the timing is not a coincidence. It comes after the pilot launch of China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), which has already processed over four million transactions. He explained:

“The timing of the Chinese OTC and exchange crackdowns is no coincidence. The PRC government is sending a strong message about its stance on cryptocurrencies other than the DCEP.”

Where does BTC go next?

Bitcoin price has reacted with a minor price drop, falling from $14,100 at the month’s peak to below $13,500. Albeit the reaction has been minimal, a further drop could have negative implications for the short-term trend of BTC.